Interesting Facts about Northeast India
Widely known for its diverse culture, rich biodiversity, multi-land form geography, Northeast of India has always intrigued travelers with its beauty and serenity. Here travelers witnesses distinctly drawn physical borders merging into one another, and realize the existence of multiple time zones within one country.
In the land of northeast nurturing and nature are irreversibly entangled with each other. It is from their geographical and natural surroundings that the 150 tribes, found in these states, derive their sense of identity. Moreover, in the year 2000, Norman Meyers, a renowned British environmentalist, identified northeast as a biodiversity hotspot. Here one can see one-horned rhinos, rad pandas and hornbills, the endangered species of the world, reveling in nature’s lap.
All of the northeastern states have a legacies and legends of their own. Here are a few interesting facts about the Northeast India.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, Sikkim
Have you ever heard of a soldier who continues to guard the nation’s border even after his death? Posted in Nathula Pass, Harbhajan Singh disappeared in a night of 1946. Only to be discovered dead a few days after by his colleague. This colleague recounted that in a dream Harbhajan had told him about his body’s location. Interestingly a few days later, another official reported a dream in which Harbhajan informed him that he would keep patrolling the Sikkim border even after his death.
Seeing his dedication towards the nation, locals built a shrine, known as Baba Harbhajan Singh’s Temple, in his honor. Even now in the flag meetings between India and China, the officials honor him by placing an empty chair in the room. The soldiers posted there continue to believe that Harbhajan Singh will inform them well-in advance about any impending attack on the border.
I hope you remember Bhuvan Bam’s documentary video.
Living Root Bridges, Meghalaya
Have you ever come across a bridge made of roots?
An interesting fact about the northeast India is that in Meghalaya the people of Khasi and Jaintia tribes have succeeded in building bridges by using the roots of rubber plants. It was approximately two hundred years ago that the art of building these bridges came into existence. By supplanting the roots of rubber tree into the canes of Areca palm, the people of Khasi and Jaintia tribes learnt to build these bridges.
Travelers admire these bridges for their strength and longevity. Capable of holding more than fifty people at a point of time, these bridges can last for 500 years and more. Travelers can see these bridges in Cherrapunji and Shillong. Due to its architectural intelligence, UNESCO has recognized the double decker bridge of Cherrapunji as a World Heritage Site.
Namgyal Ganden Lhatse Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh
Situated in Tawang, it is the world’s second largest Buddhist monastery. Merag Lodroe Gyamtso found this monastery in the year 1680-81. The building was initially a fortified complex, strategically located on a site where the traders from Bhutan, Tibet and West Kameng came across each other.
An 8m tall statue of Buddha overlooks the shrine. The meditating monks, rotating prayer wheels, and thangkas in this austere location helps one establish connection between their mind and soul. The monastery also has residential complex for monks. One can also visit the library, and the museum, within the monastery, on their visit here.
Often compared to the Jal Mahal of Jaipur, Neermahal stands amidst the beautiful Rudrasagar Lake. Built by Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Bahadur, this palace was supposed to function as the summer residence of the royal family. The Maharaja assigned the British company Martin and Burns the task of building this palace. Constructed within a period of nine years, the palace was complete by the year 1938.
The palace is emblematic of Maharaja’s architectural knowledge. The palace’s appearance is a blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural designs. The eastern section of the Palace has an open-air auditorium. This space was used for conducting cultural activities like dance, and theater performances whereas royalty reserved the western section of the palace for themselves. The palace can be accessed using boat and it will only cost you a minimal amount of twenty rupees.
Ngah Lou Dawr, Mizoram
No, Ngah Lou Dawr is not the name of some town or village instead, the term Ngah Lou Dawr refers to the shops that do not have shopkeepers. Travelers come across these shops after travelling 65 km. away from Aizawl.
Every morning the Mizo people gather their agricultural produce and put it on display on their thatched huts. Further, they specify the prices of these on a board and after placing a box for depositing money leave the shop to cultivate their farms. These shops reflect the cultural values of honesty, mutual trust, and hospitality, which form the basis of lifestyle of Mizo people.
Kamakhya Temple, Assam
One of the oldest among 51 Shakti Pithas, this temple is dedicated to the worship of Kamakhya Devi, another avatar of Devi Parvati.
In the mid of June it is believed that Kamakhya Devi undergoes her menstruation cycle for three days. For a period of three days, all the places of worship in Assam, including the prayer rooms in people’s residences, are closed. This is done in keeping with the belief of not disturbing Kamakhya Devi while she rests.
During these days Aghoris, Sanyasis and Sadhus, from all over India gather to participate in Ambubachi Mela that is widely associated with Tantric school of thought. According to the locals, during these three days waters of Brahmaputra River turn red.
Lungwa, the only village in the world that has houses on both sides of Indian-Myanmar border. It is interesting to see that the jurisdiction of the village chief ranges over India and Myanmar, as well as over the states Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. People of this village have relatives over both sides of the border. This village challenges the travelers’ idea of borders and expose the imaginary nature of interstate boundaries.
Ima Keithel, Manipur
The center of Manipur’s livelihood and its economic lifeline, Ima Keithel is the world’s largest market run by women. This market is located at the convergence point of Naga and Nambul River.
In Manipuri the word “Ima” means mother whereas the word Keithel stands for market. It was at this site that the Nupi Lan or Women’s movement against oppressive British and economic policies broke out.
Everyday more than six thousand women gather to sell their wares in the market. Earlier the market was organized in open sphere, however nowadays it has shifted to a building provided by government. From dried spices to handloom, it is a site of diverse colors, sounds and flavors. The market whispers the stories of struggles of these empowered women.
Another fact about the Northeast India is the headhunting tribe of Nagaland. In the remote district of Nagaland’s Mon district, travelers will come across the members of Konyak tribe. Their ear piercings, made using animal horns, war hats, and hornbill feathers constitutes their identity.
Until the late 1960, severing the heads of members of enemy tribe was a matter of pride for them. Those who succeeded in severing their enemies head had their face and chest adorned with tattoos by the wife of village chieftain.
Even today, the elder members train their young ones the art of handling daw, the long handled headhunting knife. Although government policies and introduction to modernity has put an end to their headhunting practices but the member of this tribe, continue to take pride in their headhunting ritual.
If you want meet this exotic tribe of northeast India don’t forget to get the Inner Line Permit from the state of Nagaland.
An important part of Buddhist and Hindu folklore, this lake is famous among visitors as the wish fulfilling lake. Located in the midst of Demazong valley, locals give the birds in the region credit for the serene view of the lake. They believe that the birds around the lake catch every falling leaf before it hits the lake’s surface.
In the months from November to May, thousands of diyas, placed on bamboo sticks by travelers, float on the lakes surface.
Jatinga Hills, Assam
Jantiga Hills, a peaceful town of Northeast India, is famous because of a strange phenomenon. Every year, by the end of monsoon, on a moonless night of either September or October, thousands of birds become disturbed and start looking for a source of light. However, in this process they end up colliding with trees and die.
Despite thorough research, scientists have not been able to come up with an explanation for this phenomenon. Locals have several stories to tell in this regard. One famous story among them is that in 1900’s three women, suspected of being witches, were put to death by the locals.
However, I leave it up to you to look for these theories and decide which one you would believe in.
12. Kaziranga National Park
Don’t forget to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kaziranga National park, famously known for their one horned rhinoceros.
It is best to visit Northeast India in the months after monsoon. Further, I would only say that it is difficult to travel all the northeastern states at once, as each state has its own marvels to showcase. Hence, it would be best that you plan individual-detailed visits to each state.
Splendor tales, legends, and places await travelers in Northeast India. I hope that on your travels to Northeast India you do find these facts useful.
Do you know that the train connecting Northeast India to southernmost tip of India, Vivek Express, is the longest train route that you will come across in this country. Do you know how long is this train route?
Also Read: How Sikkim Became a Part of India